Every year Spring Break comes around and we plan our annual destination – sometimes with kids and sometimes solo, but always with one goal in mind: the great outdoors. After four months of indoor workout hibernation – strength training in the gym, bike trainer in the living room, and popping around to our favorite pools and treadmill studios – we are longing for those days of fueling our bodies with fresh air and sunscreen-drench solar power. This year, we decided on the classic American vacation – the Road Trip. Two adults, two kids, two bikes, one skateboard, one scooter, and one dog – here are a few tips on how we stay healthy on the road.
While we were inclined to want to get to our destination as quickly as possible, we opted to plan our trip in reasonable distances. Starting off the day well rested, getting on the road by 9AM each day, we charted out 8-hours of actual driving time, breaking it down in 2-hour stints. After each short drive, we’d stop for gas, a dog-walk, rest-stop, and water. Everyone got out of the car even if only to do some stretching and shake out the legs. After about 10-hours on the road, we’d arrive at our destination, drop-off bags and head to dinner, leaving time in the evening to rest and re-group.
Active Recovery in the Car
Eight hours is a long time to be sitting, so we decided to find some creative ways to keep our muscles and joints loose and use our down-time productively. We’re training for a season of long-distance, endurance races, starting with a half-marathon in May. As our long runs are increasing, we are mindful of warding off some common runners ailments, including plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia. We travel with Yogi-Toes, a device which separates your toes and stretches out the nearby facia, as well as a Lacrosse Ball, which is perfect for working out the Piriformis and Glute Medius while sitting (we’d recommend these for the non-driving passenger!) For the driving passenger, it’s a great time to practice good posture – engaging the abs, and periodically adjusting your seat position, and checking in on your arms, neck and shoulders to make sure you are not holding unnecessary tension.
We find that a lot of the eating that happens in the car is more out of boredom than hunger. So instead of fighting it, we switch from eating meals to taking in a series of snacks throughout the trip that vary in flavor and texture. One of our favorite car staples is a quinoa/rice bowl. The night before our trip we cook a bigger dinner than we can eat and throw all our leftover veggies – asparagus, green beans, kale, fiddlehead ferns – in with diced sweet potatoes and a bowl of brown rice and quinoa. It keeps unrefrigerated for the day and can be eaten room temperature. We always travel with Vega products – bars, protein powder – for pre and post-workout recovery, and their VegaOne bar is a terrific meal replacement on the road. A bag of home-made trail mix – cashews, cranberries, and dark chocolate chips – satisfies our sweet and salty craving. Bananas with peanut or almond butter, apples and Nutella, and oranges are our family favorite desserts.
How to Order at a Chain Restaurant
Back home we do a lot of cooking, and when we do go out, we have our pick of a number of restaurants that serve local, organic and plant-based, gluten-free options. However, on the road, we know our choices will be severely limited and our ability to travel with food is short-lived. We’ve discovered by trial and error that there are a few food chains that have well adapted to different food lifestyles, and that most are willing and able to modify meals to satisfy ours. We typically ask for everything to be steamed or grilled and for sauces to be served on the side. Some of the freshest items on the menu are listed as “sides” and a great meal can be made from ordering and sharing these dishes. We tend to stay away from the salads, which are typically iceberg lettuce (little nutritional value) with calorically heavy dressings and toppings.
The Car Theater
As endurance athletes, we’re used to spending two, four, six, eight hours at a time with no other entertainment than our focus on the activity at hand. We were pleasantly surprised to see how fast the time passed, even for our kids, who were completely immersed in i-entertainment. Music is of course a staple of any road trip, and we alternate between Spotify and iTunes playlists, mixing up old and new tunes with equal measures of nostalgia and discovery. With the unexpected passing of Prince on this trip, Purple Rain and Darling Nikki, got some playtime, interspersed with our Road Trip Anthem, Jay-Z and Beyonce’s “Africa” and snippets of Hamilton and Evita (our girl Madonna). We also love to switch up our waist-up dance party with some mind-candy, and Rich Roll’s podcasts are our latest healthy obsession. When we’re feeling particularly novel, we like to read aloud articles in Runner’s World in perfect librarian voice.
The Pre-Bed Workout
One of our great road-trip discoveries was the pre-bed workout. Back home we typically eat our largest meal in the evening and don’t workout afterwards. However, after a sedentary day of intermittent snacking, we found ourselves not as hungry in the evening. Instead of our usual time to rest, we were eager to get our blood pumping. After getting the kids to bed, we set up the bike trainer in the room, turned up the volume on the headphones, and did some serious hill climbing! Wrapping up the workout as the clock struck midnight, a nightcap of almond milk, and a soothing shower made for a great night’s sleep.
Ready to roll????